Focus Four Refresher: How to mitigate the most common job-site hazards

By Tom O'Connor | Feb 15, 2024
Construction and electrical work are among the most dangerous professions.

Construction and electrical work are among the most dangerous professions. Worldwide, more than 5,000 construction workers are killed and 150,000 are injured each year, according to American Training Resources. In the United States, there have been more than 1,000 fatal injuries since 2016. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths can be attributed to electrical hazards, falls, struck-by or caught-between accidents, which have long been the top causes of construction-related deaths. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration created Construction Focus Four Training to address them.

The program was launched in 1994 to educate workers on the most dangerous and common job hazards. The module is included in the OSHA 10-hour and 30-hour programs. It is broken up into four categories, each covering one of the major hazards. 

Electrical Hazards

There are three major types of electrocution hazards, including contact with power lines and energized sources and improper use of extension and flexible power cords. As a reminder, when working with electricity, it is important to identify the pertinent hazards. 

According to the OSHA Training Institute, “An electrical hazard can be defined as a serious workplace hazard that exposes workers to the following: burns, electrocution, shock, arc flash/arc blast, fire, and/or explosions.” 

Electrical workers and employers must understand how electricity works and the appropriate basic safety controls and practices. They must also be able to identify and respond to electrical emergencies properly. 

Fall Safety

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2020, more than one in five  workplace deaths occurred as a result of fall hazards in the construction industry. Just over one-third of the deaths in this industry were due to falls, slips, and trips, and were almost entirely from falls to a lower level. The construction industry accounted for 46.1% of all fatal falls, slips, and trips.” 

Therefore, OSHA requires falls to be covered for at least one hour or more in the Focus Four Training. The objectives are for workers to identify, describe types of, protect against and recognize employer requirements and protections from fall hazards.


Struck-by fatalities account for nearly 10% of all job-related deaths in the construction industry. These injuries occur whenever workers come in forcible contact with an object, building material, vehicle, overhead line or tool. 

OSHA has four struck-by hazard categories: struck-by flying, falling, swinging or rolling objects. To protect against these hazards, workers should always wear protective hard hats, eye and face gear when using power tools and any other PPE when required. 

Workers should secure all tools and material during overhead work. Toeboards or screens can also be used to reduce the likelihood of objects falling. Workers should stay outside the danger zone of any heavy equipment and never throw or drop a tool. They should also stay clear of vehicles while in use. It is imperative for operators of heavy equipment to be appropriately trained, aware and cautious to prevent struck-by accidents. 

Caught In-Between

Struck-by hazards are slightly different than caught in-between incidents. OSHA indicates, “Caught in-between hazards kill workers in a variety of ways. These include cave-ins and other hazards of excavation work; body parts pulled into unguarded machinery; standing within the swing radius of cranes and other construction equipment; caught between equipment and fixed objects.” 

To protect against workers getting  body parts or clothes caught in machines, machines must always be properly guarded, lockout/tagout procedures followed and workers should be able to recognize and steer clear of unsafe conditions. Getting caught between a vehicle and an object is another serious concern. This may include a crane or another moving vehicle. Employers need to provide training on the dangers of passing between moving materials, structures or equipment and other solid objects and ensure that barricades are used when required. 

Construction Focus Four Training at job sites is important to ensure appropriate hazard mitigation and awareness tactics are taken. Providing proper training helps familiarize workers with the top four hazards, which creates a safer work environment. / Jade

About The Author

O’CONNOR is safety and regulatory affairs manager for Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm. Reach him at [email protected].





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